That's Carole Lombard with Randolph Scott and Gail Patrick (on-screen rival, off-screen friend) in 1936. What makes this photo special for our purpose today is where it was taken -- at the legendary Hollywood Brown Derby, on Vine Street just south of Hollywood Boulevard.
Patrick was no stranger to the Derby -- after all, at the time she was married to its owner, Robert J. Cobb. (The Cobb salad is named after him, as his restaurant created it.) With good food and reasonable prices, the Derby was a favorite of the film crowd...especially since you could have a phone brought to, and installed, at your booth. (it was probably more a status symbol than the wi-fi of its day._
The Derby also had significance for Lombard, as it was in booth #5 where Clark Gable proposed to her (once Ria Langham agreed to divorce Clark). There's something else abut Carole and the Derby, too...but we'll get to that later.
The Hollywood Brown Derby, the most famous of several restaurants bearing that name, became a Hollywood landmark. That's star-stryck Lucy Ricardo peering at the next booth to see William Holden. (In the late 1930s, Lucille Ball regularly ate at the Derby, and became known for jokingly tossing dinner rolls.)
And what's above Lucy? Drawings, specifically caricatures of stars...including two for Jimmy Durante to provide room for his famed nose.. Many restaurants have done this over the years -- Sardi's, the Palm -- and the Derby also gained fame for this.
From left are Marlene Dietrich (looking rather leonine), William Randolph Hearst, Ed Wynn and Eddie Cantor.
"So," you're wondering, "was there a caricature of Carole Lombard at the Derby?"
Why, of course!
Stunning in its abstract simplicity, and I'm sure Lombard loved it.
Now, the good news: A reproduction of this is being offered on eBay.
This drawing -- and likely the four above -- was done by an artist known simply as Vitch, the Derby's original caricaturist. According to the seller, "One of the world's finest caricaturists, Vitch displayed an economy of line and sharpness of perception that caught a personality in a few brush strokes. "
This 11" x 14" work is among the first of such reproductions offered, and you can buy it for $37.50 under eBay's "buy it now" policy. It's supposed to be up for nearly two weeks more, but I can't see it lasting that long. Want to learn more about it? Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-Brown-Derby-Caricature_W0QQitemZ250561682859QQcmdZViewItemQQptZArt_Drawings?hash=item3a56a3ddab.
And to learn more about the Derby, a restaurant with a fascinating history, go to http://www.originalhollywoodbrownderby.com/index.html.